Where do I even start with tips & tricks? Honestly all of my research has been from Buzzfeed articles, mom blogs, and just random articles on Yahoo. I’ve honestly have gone to Disneyland three times and California Adventures twice. But I feel like when I went last September (2014) and this year in December (2015) I have gotten to do everything I have wanted and more.
- Have a list of everything you want to do. Whether it’s which rides you want to ride on, what food you want to eat, or what you really want to see.
- MAKE RESERVATIONS for the places you want to eat. Best way to ensure you’ll have a spot & you don’t have to wait in long lines. Trust me you wouldn’t think the lines would be long, but they sure can be!
- Busiest times are when kids are out of school. So of course May-August are always going to be busy. When I went last year at the end of September (3rd week) it wasn’t busy at all. When I went this year (2nd week of December) it wasn’t too bad.
- Check to see what times shows (fireworks & parades) start. Some parades have two showings so knowing what times they are is great so you can plan out what you want to do before that is around the area. Always remember the 2nd showing of a show or parade is always less crowded.
- Budgeting is always key to me. If you want to eat great and not worry too much, know how much you’ll be spending when going to the park for food. If you go on the Disneyland website, they’ll have the menus up & some have prices. If they don’t I usually checked Yelp for some help!
- Budgeting tip: if you have a Target Red card then you know you get 5% off your purchases. So if you buy Disney gift cards at Target you do get 5% off of them! Honestly, I would buy a $50 each month leading up to my trip. It helped me save money for the trip & you can use it all over Disneyland, California Adventures. & Downtown Disney. The only place I had trouble using the gift cards are the little kiosk stands.
- Water! I think I am honestly too grateful for the Washington tape water. When I drank Cali tap water last year. I was in shock and honestly was not having it. So don’t forget to buy water outside the park! Save your $4 for bottle of water for a Dole Whip instead!
- Character Dinning. Even though some restaurants can be really pricey with the characters, it’s honestly worth it once I think on your trip. So if you do a breakfast character dinning, you get breakfast as well as get all your pictures with the characters so you don’t have to wait in line at the parks!
- Get to the parks early! You get the most out of your time plus you can start the Fast Pass system! Tip: If you make reservation for breakfast you get to enter through a different gate, which has very few people! So you honestly get in the park faster and have pictures with less people in it.
- Use the Fast Pass system. Even though you may walk more, the wait times will be less! Plus in the time in between you can go through shops and enjoy the atmosphere!
- When walking into the park veer left because most people veer right! With that said Tip: when figuring out which land to go to first in Disneyland, go to Adventure land first! Since most people veer right, they start in Fantasy land. So to get onto Indiana Jones line without a wait, veer left! After that ride you can go get a Fast Pass for a ride in Fantasy land & still go back to Adventure land and go on another ride right away because it is less of a wait.
- Pictures! Try to keep only one Photo Pass, many of the Photo people give you it after they take your picture. But remember these people also are willing to take pictures on your phone & other cameras! So don’t think you’ll have to pay crazy expensive for some pictures. I had the people take my pictures with their camera, my phone, & a Polaroid & never got any rude comments.
- Tips for Parents: If you have a daughter, make sure to bring princess dresses with you on the trip. I even saw many little girls throw a tantrum because they didn’t have their princess dresses along with them.
- For Toy Story Mania ride in California Adventure, go in the morning! Even though the wait is 30 mins, it is better than 45min-1hr when it’s only 10AM. Plus the ride does not have Fast Pass
- As well as Peter Pan ride, it is honestly super cool! But it also does not have a Fast Pass, so get it done in the morning! If you are with another person, have someone else wait in line, then go get your grab Fast Passes for another ride!
- Fantasmic is a really good show. Make sure to get a great spot ahead of time. People really do wait for a spot an hour before. If you can, the Stage Door Cafe seating area is right by the Fantasmic showing area. So you could grab a table an hour before and eat and hang out before the show.
- Paint the Night has two showings. If you even went to Disneyland in the 90’s (it’s like the night parade) go to the 2nd showing! It’s going to be right after the Fireworks (if you go this year) so all you have to do is wait for the crowd to leave after the fireworks then find a better spot for the parade!
- The parks usually start to get very crowded between 2PM-4PM. So do yourself a favor & go back to the hotel to take a nap. It is honestly worth it plus it wouldn’t make sense to wait in the long lines while feeling suffocated.
- Lines can be a drag so Tip: download some fun games on your phone. Saw many families play Heads Up in line with their kids to keep them entertained. Then saw other families start to download the game
Fast Passes! They can get a little confusing. Basically Fast Passes are available on some rides, usually the newer rides.You can’t get a Fast Pass one right after the other. So if you go get a Fast Pass for Big Thunder Mountain at 9:00AM and the Fast Pass return time is for 10:15AM, then you wouldn’t be able to get your next fast pass till 10:15AM.
Below is what I did I created on Google docs for my trip. If you want to see the actual document leave your email in the comment!